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University of Colorado Hospital / Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute, Aurora, Colorado

January 2015
EDAC Advocate Firm Project
Davis Partnership Architects

DAvis Partnership architects

Firm's role on the project:  Address comfort issues for patients.


EBD Goal

The primary goal for this project was to address issues of satisfaction and comfort for patients who are predominantly sight impaired and have compromised mobility through intentional EBD lighting solutions. Additionally, evidence on color and layout informed the space planning in the design, facilitating improved wayfinding and safe navigation. 


Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute is located on the campus of the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. The original facility was designed by Davis Partnership Architects (construction completed in 2000). The client approached DPA in 2010 to provide architectural design services to expand and renovate the facility.


The original plan included waiting areas with extensive glazing, filling them with natural light. While healthcare designers typically try to maximize daylight, in this facility, light caused discomfort for patients with impaired vision or whose eyes were dilated. Additionally, the original finishes were muted and did not offer a high level of visual contrast, making it difficult for the sight-impaired to safely navigate their surroundings. In the original design, a greeter desk was positioned inside the main lobby directly in line with the main entry, but was rarely staffed. Patients entering the building had no visual cues on where to proceed.


Based on evaluation of the Evidence-based Design literature, tours with the local Veterans Administration Visional Impairment Services, and consultation with Chris Downey from Architecture for the Blind, Davis Partnership addressed each of these challenges with innovative design solutions. Additionally, Davis Partnership’s research team conducted a Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) of the original facility (including observation, patient satisfaction surveys, and staff focus groups), which simultaneously served as a Pre-Occupancy Evaluation (PROE) to inform the new design.


Waiting areas in the new design are centrally located, providing a gradual reduction in the level of light from the exterior of the building into the interior, keeping patients away from windows and glare. The new building plan is organized to maintain natural light in staff offices and break rooms.

Davis Partnership made recommendations for contrasting colors and textures to help visually impaired patients with wayfinding.

In the final design, the reception desk has lighter finishes for visual contrast. The lobby incorporates a linear light and soffit running the length of the lobby to reinforce the path of travel.

The EBD Champion involved in the design from the beginning has been an active member of the construction administration team providing oversight to ensure EBD principles are implemented. Construction is expected to be completed in the spring of 2015, and a POE will be conducted in the fall of 2015.